Andy Hamilton v Mark Webster
It’s been an extremely disappointing year to date for Mark Webster. Having enjoyed commendable runs to the quarter-finals of the 2011 World Grand Prix and Grand Slam of Darts, then to the final of the Players Championship Finals the Welshman has only won one televised match this calendar year (PDC World Cup excluded).
Andy Hamilton, on the other hand, has enjoyed the most fruitful 12 months of his career and climbed to number seven in the PDC Order of Merit. His run to the final of the PDC World Championships was rewarded with a spot in the Premier League and he has since reached the last eight of the World Matchplay and European Championships.
The Hammer is solid on his doubles, and that counts for quite a lot in this World Grand Prix format. At 1.50 for the win he is plenty short enough, but I cannot bring myself to suggest opposing him given the way that Webster has been playing this year.
Michael van Gerwen v Colin Lloyd
The rise and rise of Michael van Gerwen continued at the weekend as he took the first of the two Players Championship events in Ireland. It was The Dutchman’s fourth PDC Pro Tour title of the year and comes following some notable success in televised Majors in the first half of this season.
Once touted as a future world champion Mighty Mike was beginning to look like a wasted talent, despite still only being 23 years of age. But he’s turned his career on its head this season and now looks to have all the attributes of a multiple Major winner.
Colin Lloyd hasn’t had a bad season but I don’t see him staying with the Dutchman on current form. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this match go to the wire, but I would be surprised if Lloyd came out on top.
James Wade v Colin Osborne
Having once looked like a player that may challenge for major honours on a regular basis Colin Osborne is now in danger of slipping out of the world’s top 32 and into the darting abyss. Not since reaching the semi-finals of the 2010 Players Championship Finals has he made any notable impact in a televised Major and he is now down at number 26 in the Order of Merit.
James Wade has no such worries. The Machine often struggles a little following extended breaks from the game, evidenced by his poor Premier League start and recent dismal showing at the European Championships. But when he gets into a groove he aptly performs with machine-like precision.
The double-in format is one that suits Wade’s game, and I can’t see anything other than a straightforward 2-0 win for the world number three.
Adrian Lewis v Richie Burnett
A tricky opening round opponent for world champion Adrian Lewis but, as mentioned in our outright preview, not a player that will give Jackpot any sleepless nights. All that Lewis needs to do is bring his A-game to the oche, and he’ll brush Richie Burnett to one side with consummate ease.
Whether Lewis does bring his A-game to the oche or not is not so easy to predict. There is often very little rhyme or reason as to when or why he plays his best darts, and because of that it’s impossible to suggest backing him to win any match at odds of 1.35.
We’ve taken a punt on him winning the whole tournament because the 10.00 represents value. I wouldn’t, however, take a chance on him at odds of 1.35 to beat Burnett. This is a match that most certainly should be avoided in terms of betting.
Van Gerwen to beat Lloyd @ 1.65
Hamilton to beat Webster @ 1.50
James Wade to win 2-0 @ 2.15